Hard Shelled Crusty Rolls

A basket of fresh breads
Hard Shelled Crusty Rolls
“What is it about hard rolls that get you going?” Sexy Sue stands with arms akimbo, panting slightly. Miniscule beads of perspiration form along her hairline, she is slightly flush with the heat from the oven behind her.
She has just removed a tray from the oven and places these babies on a wire rack to cool. Yummy delicious hard rolls. Sexy Sue’s feign a mild temper, trying to look annoyed at the girls who are hankering after bread: of all things.
Sexy Sue is baker extraordinaire. The title Kitchen Goddess was made for her. This woman can bake up a storm. Our trip to Ipoh was just for one purpose. To eat bread and cakes and yes, to visit with Sue too.
Bonk! Got hit by a roll, more please. Just throw, I can catch it with my mouth! Cooee….
Again, she asks patiently, “What is it about hard rolls that get you going?”
I know there are those who go the soft way, as in steamed Hainanese bread. How limp is that? Cottony soft like clouds, like cotton candy, just air as in volume but without the resistance in bite.
What’s not to love when it comes to crunchy, richly golden brown rolls with a soft chewy interior that is so flavourful.
I love breaking into the golden crust and hear that fresh cracking sound. I would describe its insides as pizza dough with amply crusty shell.
Then there’s the smell. There’s nothing quite like it, that fresh bread smell permeating from the oven and filling the kitchen. It’s a slow dance, a seduction. Warm and embracing. I am totally lost; hopelessly in love.
Sue says “For a crisper crust place a shallow pan of hot water on lowest oven rack during baking.”
I’ve heard that steam is a good tool to use when baking bread, except I don’t really understand the science of it. Apparently the steam helps the bread expand in the beginning of the bake, after that it inhibits the caramelization as that doesn’t happen in a wet environment. Ten minutes into the baking, you’re supposed to open the oven door and let out the steam…
I mean we could sit for hours at Sue’s kitchen and expound the science of baking and go into humidity and altitudes, fresh versus dry yeast and fermentation. Rolling, kneading and punching out and let it rise. Proofing. The entire mechanics of it but really watching Sue, I am humbled.
On the days that she bakes, her black wavy hair is tied into a pig tail; she has on her blue chequered shirt and jeans. She wears that apron with a man’s nude torso and six packs on it. He’s wearing a superman briefs and belt.
She is light with her hands and works quickly, her motions are fluid. We watch mesmerized as she flours the board and kneads. After that she forms the bread into various shapes and let it proof.
We sit and chat and drink copious cups of coffee, wandered around the bungalow to chat with her children and to feed her giant tortoises morning glory.
The original Hard Shelled Crusties
Oh what a splendid way to while away the morning and wait. Which brings us back to Sue staring hard at us, mildly amused?
The rolls are done sitting looking pretty. We grab with greedy hands. Sue laughs as the children trooped into the Dining Room with creamy butter, strawberry conserve, honeycomb and fresh whipped cream.
Nothing beats butter melting on fresh hot bread and watching it dissolve as it soaks into the crust. It’s almost scared. Irresistible.
“Oh Dee Dee, did I tell you that these are actually made from sourdough starter? It’s an Italian recipe that makes lean crisp rolls that bake up rustic and satisfying.”
Oh those Italians!
Carrot Walnut Cake with
Cream Cheese Frosting
Tiramisu decorated with
Fresh Fruit and Chocolate Powder
Next to a slice of heaven,
Delish Durian Cake
Chicken Pie with melt in mouth
butter shortcrust pastry
Best Savoury Muffins Ever
Chicken Pie in Puff Pastry
All goodies in photos are created and baked by Sue Ng for a private Brunch

Doris Lim is a popular freelance writer who blogs as Little Fish on travel and food stories here. Be sure to check out her other inspiring stories and follow her Instagram @SmartDoryID & Facebook to check out more places to eat delicious street foods or dine in the best restaurants!


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